Boxing doesn’t have a season finale but this Saturday is the unofficial 2016 closing party. And what an extravaganza it’s going to be – 18 hours of combat starting in New Zealand, hitting the UK in the evening and finishing in the early hours in America.
First up is the heavyweight clash between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz for one of Tyson Fury’s old belts, then Anthony Joshua defends his version of the heavyweight crown against Eric Molina in Manchester and a whole host of AJ’s talented chums are also in action, and the night is concluded with unified super lightweight supremo Terence Crawford’s showdown with John Molina Jr.
Parker has been steadily building his unbeaten record halfway around the world from the limelight and he’s ready for a world title opportunity. Still, the Kiwi has lucked-out getting a shot at a vacant belt against the rotund Ruiz. The American has skills but he lacks experience, conditioning and real power. Parker to win in rounds 7-12 is 7/4 and the stand-out bet in this one.
Anthony Joshua is making the second defence of his heavyweight world title but it’s still only his 18th pro bout. Everybody wants to see AJ in a big fight but this isn’t it. Molina is a steady boxer with some fizz in his right hand but his career highlight is surviving nine rounds before getting flattened in his only other title attempt. Expect the British champ to do it faster.
Joshua still has a 100% KO record, dispatching 15 chancers in less than three rounds and two in seven rounds. The 2012 Olympic champ is only 1/5 to knockout Molina in rounds 1-6 this weekend, and that’s probably fair. I need a bit more bang in my bet and I like the look of Joshua to win in round 3 at 4/1 and in round 4 at 6/1.
Joshua’s best buddy Dillian Whyte is also on the pay-per-view card and he’s a 3/10 favourite in his spicy contest with Dereck Chisora. Outside the ring a favourable description of both heavyweights would be ‘unpredictable’ but inside the ropes Whyte cuts a more composed demeanour. That control, superior jab and edge in power should win Whyte the fight on points at 7/4.
Where Whyte and Chisora are off the charts in the character department, Scott Quigg barely registers a result. Thankfully, his boxing is interesting enough and the hometown fighter is returning after almost year out since losing a split decision to Carl Frampton. Quigg’s opponent is the limited but tough Mexican featherweight Jose Cayetano and the best bet is the Brit in rounds 1-6 at 4/1.
Even some of the best amateurs struggle in the pro game at first. Not Katie Taylor. The Irish lightweight tore apart Karina Kopinska in three rounds on her debut only two weeks ago and faces an immediate step up in Viviane Obenauf. The Brazilian also beat Kopinska in her last contest but could only manage a points victory. Taylor will dominate but the value is with the decision victory at 2/1.
Maybe the least hyped British contender currently on the scene is Kal Yafai. The Brummie is unbeaten and an Olympian, and he gets a first sight at global glory this Saturday against Luis Concepcion. The Panamanian super flyweight world champ is short, stocky and aggressive but Yafai is more accurate, has more variation and is better tactically. Back Yafai to win at 1/2.
Further down the undercard, Hosea Burton’s British light heavyweight strap is on the line when he faces Frank Buglioni. Buglioni’s stock has fallen after a couple of losses but Londoner is still an attacking force. I think Burton will be too awkward and too tall to catch clean, while he shouldn’t have much trouble tagging the former British champ. Burton on points will return 6/4 on your money.
Callum Smith occupies the mandatory spot for a crack at the super middleweight world title but he’s being made to wait, so the Scouser is keeping busy by defending his British title against Lancashire’s Luke Blackledge. The challenger likes to come forward but Smith will find it easy to force him backwards. I fancy another round 1 KO win for the champ at 8/1.
Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz joined British promoters Matchroom to a lot of fanfare but in his first bout under his new handlers he flapped about to an unimpressive points win. Dave Allen has been brought in to bring out the best in Ortiz and the Brit has promised action. This should suit Ortiz’s style and you can back him at 1/3 to win by stoppage.
The pound-for-pound best boxer on show this weekend is super lightweight king Crawford. The America faces the challenge from his countryman Molina Jr, but it shouldn’t be too testing. Molina earned the shot with a tactical display but he’s known for a rampaging style. Either way Crawford will have his number and 4/6 for victory by KO is a great price.
It’s a rare thing to see two unbeaten, young fighters put their reputations at risk, but that’s the case with Americans Jermall Charlo and Julian Williams. Charlo won the super welterweight world title last year and has a couple of big names on his resume. Williams is a bit less experienced but has looked flawless in his career so far. The money has to be with Charlo at 8/11 to win.
The best boxing bets for this weekend:
Jermall Charlo to win @ 8/11
Terence Crawford to win by KO/TKO @ 4/6
Callum Smith to win in Round 1 @ 8/1
Dillian Whyte to win on points @ 7/4
Joshua to win in round 3 @ 4/1
All Saturday’s boxing markets are available here.
Prices correct as of Thursday 8th 3pm.